The Times Gets It Wrong With Story On Crusade To Stop Anti-Gay E-Tailer

Though the gay press picked up the story some time ago, The Gray Lady just reported today on the Charity Giveback Group, an online shopping portal that funds anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.

The national battle was ignited in July by Stuart Wilber, a 73-year-old gay man in Seattle. He was astonished, he said, when he learned that people who bought Microsoft products through a Christian-oriented Internet marketer known as Charity Giveback Group, or CGBG, could channel a donation to evangelical organizations that call homosexual behavior a threat to the moral and social fabric.

“I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding, Microsoft,’ ” he recalled, noting that the software giant — like many other corporations accessible through the commerce site, including Apple and Netflix — was known as friendly to gay causes.

While we’re glad the Times is covering the story, their portrayal of the situation as a “battle” in the ongoing culture wars suggests this is just some ideological tiff between two viewpoints—framing FRC and Focus as harmless-sounding “prominent conservative evangelical groups.” In fact, writer Erik Ekholm spends a great deal of the piece on the debate over whether the organizations are  “hate groups.” (Quotation marks are put around the term when Wilber refers to them as such.) The piece also uses loaded words like “fighting back” to describe CGBG’s actions.

Peep this passage:

On one side are angry gay-rights advocates and bloggers, wielding the club of the gay community’s purchasing power.

On the other side are conservative Christian groups that say they are being attacked for their legitimate biblical views of sex and marriage, as well as a Web marketing firm that feels trampled for providing consumers with free choice.

Hmm, which faction sounds more rational and reasonable?

It’s unlikely Ekholm or the Times are fans of the religious wingnuts. But, perhaps because because of a desire to juice up the story, the piece leans too heavily in favor of CGBC and its allies. There is only one brief quote from Wilber and a paraphrase from the Southern Poverty Law Center about hate groups. Meanwhile Mike Huckabee, presidential hopeful and a paid CGBG consultant gets to call the campaign “economic terrorism” and “un-American.”

Blogger Roy Steele who started his own campaign against CGBC and is mentioned in Sunday’s article, told Queerty the piece was postponed and then edited down significantly for space.

“Erik said that he might be constrained by column inches, which would have an affect on how he could tell the story. After it was pushed back twice, due to space, and ‘real news’ happening in the world – I was afraid the story would never run. I’m glad that it did – even in an abridged fashion.”

Steele (at right) says the hardest part is that, “with more resources at their disposal, [CGBC and its allies] take to the air waves with their ad hominem attacks, while I’ve been largely defending our community from my little noticed blog space in a small corner of the Web.

Anyone got mad Internet or PR skills? Drop Steele a line and volunteer your services.


Images via Eli Yokley, Roy Steele

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